Recent history suggests direction Giants should go with No. 2 pick

Recent history suggests direction Giants should go with No. 2 pick

SAN FRANCISCO — Pablo Sandoval said he wanted to cry as he rounded the bases and headed for the plate after a walk-off homer Sunday. Somewhere at AT&T Park, there were probably a few team officials who felt the same. 

The Giants never actively tanked — they did the opposite, in fact — but they did finish just one loss away from the No. 1 pick in the draft. That didn't just cost them a chance to pick first, it also chopped about $500,000 off their draft bonus pool. A few minutes after Sandoval clinched win No. 64, the Tigers lost their 98th game, capping a truly horrendous month of September. They owned the tiebreaker by percentage points, having finished one win behind the Giants last season (the teams both had 75 losses but the Tigers only played 161 games). 

The Giants have picked in the top two of the draft just once in their history and it worked out well. They took Will Clark second overall in 1985. A year later, Matt Williams was their selection with the third pick in the draft. Jason Grilli (fourth in 1997) and Buster Posey (fifth in 2008) are the only other top-five picks in franchise history. 

Recent history says they’ll get a very talented player who should develop into one of the game’s top prospects. Here’s a look at the last 10 guys who were selected second overall … 

2017: Hunter Greene, Reds (in the minors)

2016: Nick Senzel, Reds (in the minors, currently MLB Pipeline’s No. 8 prospect)

2015: Alex Bregman, Astros (worth 3.8 WAR this season)

2014: Tyler Kolek, Marlins (in low minors, lost a year to Tommy John)

2013: Kris Bryant, Cubs (was the 2016 NL MVP)

2012: Byron Buxton, Twins (worth 3.5 WAR this season)

2011: Danny Hultzen, Mariners (retired because of injuries)

2010: Jameson Taillon, Pirates (4.44 ERA in 25 starts this season)

2009: Dustin Ackley, Mariners (was in AAA after six years in Majors)

2008: Pedro Alvarez, Pirates (154 big league homers but never became a star)

If you go back a few more years, you can add Mike Moustakas, Alex Gordon and Justin Verlander to the list. There are also quite a few busts, obviously. The draft is an inexact science, although the last few drafts probably suggest the Giants should go with a position player to minimize the risk. They have until next June to figure out what they want to do.

Dave Righetti is the face of the Giants' rebuild so far


Dave Righetti is the face of the Giants' rebuild so far

There was something almost disturbingly surreptitious about the Giants’ decision to announce Dave Righetti’s removal as pitching coach (for a front office job) Saturday. Saturday, after all, is the day you typically bury sports news that isn’t football, or related to football in some way.

But that could just be us being needlessly conspiratorial. We’re willing to bestow, if not the benefit of the doubt, at least the lack of doubt.

Still, Righetti’s reassignment, and those of bullpen coach Mark Gardner and assistant hitting coach Steve Decker, makes it clear that however the Giants want to avoid the use of the word “rebuilding,” they are indeed rebuilding – just not in the traditional new-players-for-old way.

General manager Bobby Evans made it clear without saying the words that Righetti’s messaging had lost its efficacy with the younger pitchers, who for the most part had not been part of the franchise’s most glorious times. And since the only pitchers still on the 40-man roster who had been with the club for its last World Series parade are Madison Bumgarner and Hunter Strickland, Evans clearly concluded that the message to the new staff needed to come from elsewhere.

Now this assumes that the problem with the Giants’ pitching was not the talent level or the execution, of course. Typically, it takes a lot for a manager or coach to screw up his job so profoundly that he needs to be replaced – mostly it’s considered an environmental matter that a new voice saying the old stuff is sufficient. It’s really more alchemy than science, and alchemy is fairly hit-or-miss.

But it is change where the Giants feel they can change; their four starters (Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija and Matt Moore) and closer (Mark Melancon) are in for $70.8 million this coming year, so a full-on demolition is not cost effective, and the young’uns (Chris Stratton, Strickland, Cory Gearrin, Derek Law, et. al.) remain in that tenuous middle ground between dependable and disposable. In other words, there aren’t a lot of options for dramatic player change, and the Giants don’t look to be aggressive buyers in the off-season, crackpot Giancarlo Stanton rumors notwithstanding.

So this is the face of the Giants’ rebuild so far – Dave Righetti, Mark Gardner and Steve Decker. Make of the act and the circumstances of the release of the information what you will, but as it is neither the manager (Bruce Bochy is golden) or the players (who with only a few exceptions are decidedly meh, with a side of feh), it will have to do as the first answer to the question, “What do they intend to do about 64-98?"

I mean other than keeping a low profile about it.

Report: Two Giants hitters elect free agency


Report: Two Giants hitters elect free agency

With free agency set to begin five days after the World Series ends, two hitters that played for the Giants during the 2017 season have put their names on the open market.

Veteran third baseman Conor Gillaspie and longtime minor league outfielder Carlos Moncrief have both elected for free agency, according to Baseball America.

The 30-year-old Gillaspie appeared in 44 games for the Giants this past season. He hit just .168/.218/.288 with four doubles, two home runs and eight RBI. He was designated for assignment on August 3 and outrighted to Triple-A Sacramento on August 5. With the River Cats, Gillaspie hit .375 with four doubles in 15 games in August.

Prior to the 2017 season, Gillaspie signed a one-year, $1.4 million deal with the Giants.

As for Moncrief, the soon-to-be 29-year-old finally got his first call-up the majors this past season after eight and a half seasons in the minors. He debuted for the Giants on July 29. In 28 games, he hit .211/.256/.237 with one double and five RBI. While he didn't do much with the bat, Moncrief showed off a cannon for an arm when he patrolled right field.